The Nature Conservancy has begun restoration efforts on Shamrock Island, a 110-acre island located west of Mustang Island in Corpus Christi Bay. As part of the Conservancy’s coastal restoration program, Shell Oil has committed $500,000 to get the project underway.
Shamrock Island is among the most important islands in the western Gulf of Mexico for large colonies of sea and shore birds. Accessible only by boat, as many as 24,000 nesting birds rely on the island each year between February and August.
A slender bridge of land once connected Shamrock Island to Mustang Island. After a hurricane destroyed the land bridge, it became one of only four natural islands on the Texas coast that provides a safe haven for nesting birds. Mainland predators that would normally threaten the vulnerable nesting birds, their eggs, and their chicks cannot reach the island. The island is significant because its varied topography, landscapes, and vegetation attract and support a wonderfully diverse array of bird species in great numbers.
Over the years the island has sustained serious damage from winter storms that have swept across Corpus Christi Bay. Crashing waves and strong winds have pounded the island’s western side, raking sand from its beaches, uprooting sea grass, and breaching the uplands that shelter the islands critical lagoons and wetlands.
Shamrock Island is now severely eroded and in need of restoration; on February 28th the Conservancy will announce its two-pronged restoration approach to ensure the island remains a safe haven for the thousands of birds that nest there each year.
“The restoration of Shamrock Island is a key priority for The Nature Conservancy,” said Laura Huffman, Texas state director of The Nature Conservancy. If we are going to preserve Texas’ amazing natural legacy for future generations, we need all sectors – private, business, public and non-profits – investing in on-the-ground conservation opportunities like Shamrock Island.” The natural systems that ensure the health of the Gulf of Mexico are rapidly vanishing, threatening both our national economy and one of our national treasures. We’re stripping away the Gulf’s natural defenses yet expecting, wanting and needing it to perform as well, if not better, as it always has. This national workhorse can survive, but not without our help.”
Total cost of the project is estimated at $2.3 million. The funding from Shell will be used to complete the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in late 2012.
“As an energy company striving to meet the growing demand for domestic energy, we recognize the importance of a holistic approach to the environment where we work and making the most of the natural resources we have,” said Mary Grace Anderson, Shell’s Development Manager and Decision Executive for the Mars B ‘Olympus’ TLP. This is one of the reasons we are proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy to restore Shamrock Island and ensure a sustainable habitat for nesting birds for years.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.